5 Dead-End Marketing Strategies To Avoid

Business marketing has been developing from the days when cavemen first bartered for fish and meat. Since those far-off times, business marketing had developed and evolved over the centuries to reach the position it occupies today. It has become a sophisticated beast with many arms and methods to achieve its end.

One of the main mistakes many people make with regards to business marketing in the twenty-first century is to assume that somehow all these years of development have lead to a form that is in some ways familiar and complete. This is a fundamental mistake. It is vital for anyone wanting their marketing to be successful that they understand that not only does business marketing continue to develop, but there are a number of strategies that however successful they once were can officially be pronounced dead.

The following are five such strategies have had their day and as such, are better left out of any modern marketing strategy.

Non-targeted Direct Mail

Once a staple of most business marketing strategies, direct mail has long since lost its luster. It’s not that anything much has changed about how companies carry out these campaigns, it is rather that the world has changed and made the format obsolete.

Non-targeted direct mail (along with,let’s face it, much so-called “targeted” direct mail) has seldom been more than a scattershot approach. The idea that thousands of letters are sent on the chance that a very small percentage result in a sale may have been viable once but no longer holds water today. The problem is that in an age of social media and interactive marketing, the very fact that a consumer has received a direct mail marketing letter may well work against the company that sent it. Consumers now expect marketing to not just be targeted but also to be relevant to them. The days when random non-environmentally friendly paper would swamp their mailboxes should be assigned to the past.

Radio Advertising

Make no mistake about it: Radio listening figures are plummeting. Customers consume their music in so many different ways today that it is barely worth advertising on what is now a very old-fashioned medium. That’s not to say no one listens to commercial radio — of course, they do — but the returns from advertising as a percentage of media are greatly reduced. One of the key reasons for this besides the other ways to listen to music is that consumers have moved away from non-interactive marketing. We have come to distrust any marketing that talks at us without a method for responding.


Once seen as the natural successor to direct mail, e-newsletters are now a poor performing relative of old-fashioned marketing. There’s little doubt that they once worked in the early days of Internet takeup, but they are simply too static and verbose to engage a modern consumer. Businesses should never lose sight of the fact that Internet users have shorter and shorter attention spans. The days when a consumer would happily sit at their computer and read through blocks of text that may lack much relevance to them are gone. In fact, they can often have the opposite effect by frustrating those who receive them. If your company/business is still sending out e-newsletters it is probably time to stop and replace them with much more dynamic marketing.

Traditional Television Marketing

It would be a brave commentator who was willing to consign television marketing to the trash heap just yet. However, it is fair to say that traditional TV marketing has had its day. The point here is that innovative commercials (think of Apple’s TV slots) still have a place and can still become talking points (thus creating the holy grail of advertising – word of mouth). Yet other, more traditional commercials are as redundant as the Betamax video machines that still languish in many attics.

Aiden Livingston makes the point in a Visibility Magazine article that today’s television consumers use services such as Tivo to record programs (and often entire seasons) to be consumed when they want. Of the millions who watch this way, how many do not fast forward through the commercials? And that’s not even thinking about those who buy Blu-Ray/DVD boxed sets that are commercial free. The message for businesses is if you want to stick with TV, make your commercials innovative while keeping an eye on what you will replace them with in a few years’ time.

Newspaper Advertising

While not actually dead, newspaper advertising is certainly unwell. This is a direct result of the seemingly endless decline in newspaper sales. For those who want to still use the medium, look at online outlets. More and more people are consuming their news this way, especially among younger readers. Taking the decision to root out old-fashioned business marketing strategies now will help ensure your business flourishes in the years ahead.


(Tony Duffield, All Business)

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